Good Housing, a Cornerstone of Community Contribution

Nick Sinclair headshot
Nick Sinclair
Director, Local Area Coordination Network

My passion for community and community-led approaches came from working alongside people experiencing and recovering from homelessness. This shaped my view of what ‘good support’ should look and feel like – local, accessible, personal, human – something that builds on people’s gifts and talents and sees the whole person in the context of their whole life. I also saw how the presence and investment in approaches that nurtured connection and community had a “preventative” impact too, helping people to build resources and nurture connection so they could pursue their own vision of a good life. 

My realisation that it is people and their communities who hold their own answers eventually led me to the incredible world of Local Area Coordination. Through this fascinating 5-year journey, I've seen how Local Area Coordination has emerged as a catalytic force in many areas, including in relation to housing and reimaging the purpose and scope of public services.

Local Area Coordination (opens new window) is an approach and philosophy with over 30 years of evidence and thinking behind it. It operates from powerful principles and focuses on the whole person and family rather than targeted interventions, pathways around specific issues. The approach supports local people and their families to envision a fulfilling life, build their agency, connectivity, and resources, and actively shape their local communities through their contributions.  Crucially, it augments local services, recognising the importance and value of specialism where needed, but always keeping the person and family at the centre of their own plan for a better life.

Currently, there are around 120 Local Area Coordinators in various communities in England and Wales, working hyper locally in populations of circa 8-10,000 people (adjusted for rural areas). We support councils (who are the employing organisations) to establish the approach whilst also convening the Local Area Coordination Network of people doing it. Housing concern is a recurring theme in the reasons why people might connect with a Local Area Coordinator in the first place.  In that Local Area Coordinators recognise that for many a home is more than just shelter; it is the cornerstone of our identity, our sense of place, pride, belonging and somewhere to build our lives from.

Consider Chris’ story (opens new window) for instance. Chris was introduced to his Local Area Coordinator Karen after approaching his local council for support. He was concerned that his path to recovery was about to be impacted by his shared living situation if things didn't change. Initially, Chris and Karen's relationship focused on understanding Chris's welfare rights, staying strong, and finding more suitable accommodation (which he did). With Karen alongside him, Chris then enrolled in an adult learning course where he studied social enterprise before establishing 'Turning Corners', an award-winning community football group with local men. Chris’ impressive achievements were, in part, due to the positive and trusting relationship nurtured between him and Karen.  Yes, they tackled his housing challenges together, but it was that plus the nurturing of his strengths, gifts and community connections which ultimately helped him make such an impressive contribution.

We will always have a need for specialist support and services in areas like housing and support. They play a valuable role in shaping our society and helping people when needed. They need to be cherished and protected.  However, so many of the answers we seek lay within us and our communities, not services. Also, so much time is spent in services assessing people for support they’re ineligible for in the first place. I therefore wonder what this country would look like if instead every community had a Local Area Coordinator in it, connected with but separate from that service infrastructure?  I suspect we’d see widespread reduction in issues related to things like housing, but moreover I think we’d see many more people like Chris moving from the fringe of their community to being central to it. 

If you found this of interest and would like to find out more, Nick is also speaking at our annual virtual Summit on Friday, 1 March 2024 (10.30-12noon) in a session titled CollaborAGE: Innovative mainstream and specialist housing solutions.

For other examples of Local Area Coordination and community-led solutions, check out Housing LIN’s CollaborAGE Directory at:


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